A New Brewery in Tacoma – The Resurrection of Pacific Brewing & Malting

– by Casey McLain, South Sound Bureau Chief  –

For nearly 100 years, starting in 1916 when state prohibition forced them to shut their doors, Tacoma has been without Pacific Brewing & Malting. Once a staple of Tacoma’s brewery district, occupying several buildings on the border of the south and central Tacoma neighborhoods, the site of Pacific Brewing & Malting’s resurrection is on the very north end of Pacific Avenue, where they’ll bookend one of Tacoma’s most active neighborhoods in terms of night life.

In recent years we’ve seen the return of some former local staples, with both Rainier and Olympia beers being made by California-based Pabst Brewing Company. Rest assured, however, that Pacific Brewing & Malting will not be attached to some out-of-state domestic brewery.

“I live in Tacoma, I love Tacoma, I’m not going anywhere. We’re going to be here for a while. In this business Pacific Brewing & Malting, we’re all Tacoma people who love Tacoma,” says Steve Navarro, head brewer and part-owner of Pacific Brewing & Malting. “One of the things I think Tacoma has been missing for a long time is something like breweries. I would love to see Tacoma become the next Portland, where we all have something we can kind of rally around.”

“One of the things that we want to do for Tacoma is to make this place specifically for ‘Tacomans,’ and to do everything we can to make this a place where people want to come and hang out. That’s why we’re spending so much money on the buildout and the interior, that’s why we’re doing different types of seating and creature comforts. We want people to want to come hang out here.”

Note – click here to read about the history of the original Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

At this time Pacific Brewing & Malting plans on having several seating options, not the least of which includes leather chairs surrounding a fireplace. The taproom will also include three televisions.

While the inclusion of televisions may run counter to a trend of local establishments opting against including TVs in their taprooms and bars, like many other local beer hubs Pacific Brewing & Malting has been influenced by the modern brewery tap room. Pacific Brewing & Malting will allow customers to bring food in from local bars and restaurants – which exist in abundance in this neighborhood of Tacoma – as well as the brewery hosting food trucks on occasion.

Picutred: The entry to what will be the tap room, taken from what will be the cold room.
Picutred: The entry to what will be the tap room, taken from what will be the cold room.

Navarro is aware that the market place will determine what Pacific Brewing & Malting’s signature beers will be. “We have an idea of what we want them to be, we have one we call Pacific Lager, an all-malt Pacific style lager, it’s kind of our homage to history,” though Navarro clarifies, “This is my own recipe, this is not a recipe from 100 years ago.” Pacific Brewing & Malting plans on having a porter, and an American strong ale, as well as an IPA called The Dirty Skoog, paying homage to “local folklore we’re not ready to tell people about yet.”

A brewery that is already dripping in history from its resurrected brand name to the age and significance of the building it occupies, just one door north of Old City Hall, Pacific Brewing & Malting welcomes the addition of a McMemanim’s location that is literally across Commerce Street from the upstairs entrance to their building (though the upstairs offers no access to the brewery for the public). The McMenamin’s location will occupy a historic Elks Lodge, adjacent to Tacoma’s famous Spanish Steps which connect Broadway and Commerce Street:

“I see it as a good thing, because they have a big following. People are going to come to McMenamin’s to see McMenamin’s, and if they happen to look across the street they’ll see our sign that says ‘Pacific Brewing down those steps.’ I see it as a huge opportunity, not competition at all,” says Navarro.

Pacific Brewing & Malting will start with a seven barrel brew house, and do most of their sales as retail sales in the taproom, at the beginning at least, and plan on being open four or five days a week, with the intention of expanding to a seven-day-a-week operation as the business grows.

Pacific Brewing and Malting
610 Pacific Ave
Tacoma, WA 98402

Twitter: @PacificBrewing


Casey McLain is the founder of North and South of Royal Brougham, a replacement-level Seattle sports blog, and can be found tweeting about beer and sports @CaseyMcLain34.